July 13, 2013

"Screw Your Standing Desk!"

Hey, that felt personal! Because I've been conspicuous with all the "Look at me at my standing desk."

So here's Ben Crair in The New Republic with his "sitter's manifesto." But he's not saying "screw your standing desk" to people like me who like our own standing desks. He's talking to the health engineers and government nannies who would take away other people's chairs and declare that henceforth all must work standing up. He says:
It worries me because I like to sit. It feels fantastic. If I wrote The Giving Tree, I would have chopped the tree down on the first page and had the boy sit on the stump for the rest of the book. And I would definitely have written it while seated myself, because sitting, for me, is one of the true rewards of writing.
Crair talks about various writers — notably Philip Roth — who work at standing desks, then says:
[It] isn’t nearly as novel as its evangelists make it sound: Nietzsche denounced Flaubert for his “sedentary life” way back in 1888, and Virginia Woolf and Lewis Carroll were standing writers, according to an entertaining article by George Pendle (who writes, he tells us, while standing).

What’s new is the entry of the medical establishment into the debate on the side of the standers, lending their preference an annoying air of moral superiority. The years the standers gain in longevity, though, are offset by lost pride: Is there a better symbol of corporate obeisance than the standing desk?
There's maybe an annoying air of moral superiority to saying that these workers who are not literary writers are horning in on the elegant posings of the storied scribes — after writing that phrase, I motorized my desk into the standing position — and now that corporations are installing standing desks, they're not cool anymore.

ADDED: Here's one of my favorite books: "The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design." I read it years ago, and what I remember is that sitting in a chair was not a normal thing for people do to until fairly recently, that there was a time when the chair was more of a throne (a special seat for the leader), and that an English colonialist in India tried to get workers out of the squatting position that was normal for them in a world without chairs.